Phins.com participated in a
Q&A session with Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland on November 8 at the
Dolphins Training Facility in Davie,
FL. Jeff took questions on a number of subjects.
On his philosophy on
We try to get “make up”
players. We want smart, tough, and discipline players. We want players with
intangibles like character, integrity, toughness, intelligence, work ethic,
accountability, dependability, and, most importantly, passion. If you don’t
have passion, you can’t do this job.
On his team being 4-4 at
midseason and if he’s surprised
I expected this. When we
turned this roster over from last year, we turned over 27 of 53 players. The
players that are still here, they have the “make up”. They’re good players and
they have a lot of pride; guys like Channing Crowder and Renaldo Hill. I can’t
say enough about what they’ve been able to do to help this program turn around.
On what they saw in Phillip
Merling and Kendall Langford
Both of those guys are “make
up” guys. Merling was a junior coming out of Clemson. We felt like he was a
pressure player, a guy who could pressure the quarterback from a “5” technique
(from the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle) or a “4” technique (nose to
nose with the offensive tackle). We knew he was going to get bigger and grow.
When you have someone who can pressure a player from the “4” technique or the
“5” technique, that’s kind of rare. We felt he could do that and play the run.
He probably needs a bit more work in the run game than maybe Langford does.
Langford is a young guy out of a small school (Hampton). He played in a 4-3
scheme same as Merling. Langford is tough, highly competitive. His motor never
stops. He’s big and he’s going to get bigger.
On whom he’s watching
right now in college that’s impressed him
I don’t know if Dolphin fans
are going to like what I’m about to say here, but I really enjoy watching Alabama play. I really
do admire Nick Saban. I think his program is going in the right direction. I
was just down there a couple of weeks ago, and they have a couple of prospects
that just play hard, with a lot of passion and discipline and accountability.
They’re smart football players. It’s nice to know they’ve been through a
program as tough as that one. I was at LSU the other day, too. LSU’s got some
players in the same boat as (Alabama).
I was at Missouri
this week and they certainly have some good players. The college game is all
about projection. You have to project these players in a Dolphin uniform. Free
agency is about production.
On the trades for Akin
Ayodele, Anthony Fasano, and Jason Ferguson
We were in talks with Jerry
and Stephen Jones probably a week to a week-and-a-half prior to the draft. We
had targeted a couple of players on the Dallas Cowboys and we were able to get
three of them.
On positions he will
target in 2009 Draft
You’ve got to let the chips
fall where they are. We didn’t go into the (2008) draft saying we were going to
draft three defensive linemen and two offensive linemen. That’s the way the
board was stacked, that’s what the strengths were in the draft. You draft the
best players on the board that fit. Every draft is different. We don’t stack
the board with 257 players. We stack the board with less than 150 players. We
actually draft horizontally, by position. So you might have a tackle with the
same grade as a receiver, with the same grade as a safety, with the same grade
as a quarterback. So if they’re all a similar player (grade-wise), you can
bypass certain players because of need.
On Chad Pennington
and his impact
Chad has obviously made a tremendous impact from Day One.
If you remember, the media was pretty hard on the receiving position going into
training camp, prior to Chad
getting here. Automatically, almost immediately, the receivers got better when Chad got here.
And that’s not because they faster or they got open quicker. It’s because they
got the ball on the right stride, or the right hip, or the right shoulder, or
wherever it needs to be. It was accurate, on time. He throws a really catchable
ball. He’s a leader...in the locker room, on the field, everywhere.
On if he anticipated Chad Pennington
being released by the NY Jets
It came to our mind. You knew
(the Jets) couldn’t handle the cap hit that Chad had and Brett so we knew they
would have to do something there. Obviously we felt good about him because he
knew the division so well. He had a pretty good record in the division. Those
(players) don’t fall off the tree very often and when they do there’s a race to
get to that acorn.
On why Pennington chose
the Dolphins over other teams
Talking to Chad’s agent, there was obviously
some interest from other teams, but I don’t know much interest there was. I
know it meant a lot to him to be with Dan Henning (Dolphins offensive
coordinator) again and to have an opportunity to start and play. I said to
(Pennington), “Look, we’re going to give you an opportunity to earn the
position.” He said, “That’s all I want”.
On his long term
expectations for the young wide receivers
We’re one of the 3-4
youngest teams because we have guys like Devone Bess and Brandon London and our
draft class. It’s hard to say what their long term outcome is going to be.
Those guys are smart. London
is a highly competitive kid; he’s making a difference on special teams. Bess
can return punts and do a lot of things. You’ve heard Coach (Sparano) say ‘the
more you can do, the more plays you can play, that’s our big thing’. London and Bess do that.
I think they have a chance to have a more integral part as we go down the line.
On any interest in
signing DeAngelo Hall
Not a whole lot to be honest
On what convinced him to
keep Ricky Williams
Ricky’s a good football
player, first and foremost. We said when we first got here that we were going
to evaluate everybody. Everybody was going to (start out) 0-0. Ricky came in
and he knew it was 0-0 and he worked his tail off. I’ve known about Ricky for a
long time. I scouted him during his time at Texas. He came in here, he’s a professional,
he knows how to take care of his business, he knows how to finish plays. He
struck us as a guy we’d like to keep around here and give another chance. He
just did everything right. We weren’t going to look back and (dwell) on what he
did wrong. We obviously know it. It’s in the back of our heads. We’re aware of
On Tony Sparano and the
What I’m kind of surprised
about is how quickly Coach (Tony) Sparano has been able to help this team
turnaround, how quickly the culture in this building has changed. I think
that’s kind of rare. I can’t tell you how proud of Tony I am. That’s one tough
guy there. Someone asked me ‘what are you looking for in a head coach?’ before
I got here. I said, “I’m looking for a captain, for a guy to lead us”. Someone
said, ‘well, are you looking for a shrimp boat captain or a battleship
commander?’. Obviously we were looking for a battleship commander and that’s
what we got in Tony.
On if he’s considered bringing
in a kickoff specialist to help the coverage teams
No, I haven’t. I think Dan
Carpenter has been able to do from a distance and hang time standpoint is
pretty good. I’d say it’s in the top half of the league in terms of hang time
and distance. I think our problem with kickoffs is that we need to develop a
different mentality going down (on kicks). Carpenter’s doing his job. Now, he’s
got to keep it on the right side of the field. When it’s supposed to be a deep
right (kick), it needs to be deep right, not deep left.